Mexico’s ‘Narco-Refugees’: The Looming Challenge for U.S. National Security
Since 2006, when Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared war on the drug cartels, there has been a rise in the number of Mexican nationals seeking political asylum in the United States to escape the ongoing drug cartel violence in their home country.
Political asylum cases in general are claimed by those who are targeted for their political beliefs or ethnicity in countries that are repressive or are failing. Mexico is neither. Nonetheless, if the health of the Mexican state declines because criminal violence continues, increases, or spreads, U.S. communities will feel an even greater burden on their systems of public safety and public health from “narco-refugees.”
Given the ever increasing cruelty of the cartels, the question is whether and how the U.S. Government should begin to prepare for what could be a new wave of migrants coming from Mexico. Allowing Mexicans to claim asylum could potentially open a flood gate of migrants to the United States during a time when there is a very contentious national debate over U.S. immigration laws pertaining to illegal immigrants.
On the other hand, to deny the claims of asylum seekers and return them to Mexico where they might very well be killed, strikes at the heart of American values of justice and humanitarianism. This monograph focuses on the asylum claims of Mexicans who unwillingly leave Mexico rather than those who willingly enter the United States legally or illegally. To successfully navigate through this complex issue will require a greater level of understanding and vigilance at all levels of the U.S. Government.